Rule of Seven: Lesson Planning Challenge

What if your struggling students actually managed to write all the notes quickly and remembered the main idea of your lesson?  What if students re-read their notes when it was time to study? What if they were able to explain concepts simply without misconceptions!

The rule of 7 is simple.  Seven words, steps or points are the maximum for optimal memory retention.  That means, quick definitions of vocabulary words need to have 7 words or less. Wilfong (2012) states that truncated definitions should be limited to 3-5 words.

cant explain dont understand

Here’s the challenge…

Choose one lesson this week and apply the Rule of Seven. 

 Here are some steps to follow.

  1. Read and (if possible) re-write the lesson goal so it has 7 words or less.  When doing this, consider the main idea of your lesson and what you want your students to remember next lesson.
  2. Review the learning activities that you have planned. How long will each activity last? 5-7 minutes of instructional time (that’s teacher talk) also applies. If you are planning to chalk and talk for 15 minutes you need to rethink how you are going to sequence the lesson.  Split that 15 minutes into three 5 minute blocks or five 3 minute blocks or don’t divide it evenly at all.
  3. Last, but not least, review how much writing you are expecting your students to do.  If you are asking students to copy notes in their books, keep it to 7 or less dot points.  That doesn’t mean that each dot point can be a paragraph! If asking your students to write their own summary of the lesson, limit them to 7 words or less.  It will challenge them.

There it is.  The rule of 7 challenge. It is hard, but you can do it. I know you can.  I would love to hear how you go.  Let us know in the comments.   How does this rule change how you plan? What happens in the classroom when you plan your lessons this way? Is it worth the extra effort?  Is it easy or difficult for you? How do you make this challenge work for you and your students?

I can’t wait to hear from you!

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Diamante Poetry: Writing with Word Types

This form of poetry can be challenging, but once your students get the idea they will benefit from using the form to write about different topics.  Check this out.

Diamante is a seven line poem where the theme or topic of the poem ends opposite to the opening topic.  This is an excellent activity for students to use their knowledge of synonyms and antonyms.  When published and displayed around the room they also provide environmental print for students to use during other writing activities.  This form is more difficult than it seems so teachers should provide appropriate scaffolding for students, throughout the writing process.

Line 1 – Name (Noun) Theme/Object
Line 2 – Two adjectives describing the noun in line 1.
Line 3 – Three participles (-ing or -ed), relating to line 1 and 2 of the poem.
Line 4 – Four nouns (2 referring to the noun in line 1 and the other 2 referring to line 7).
Line 5 – Three participles (relating to the noun in line 7)
Line 6 – Two adjectives (describing the noun in line 7)
Line 7 – Noun (names the Theme or object which is the opposite of the noun in line 1)
This particular outline is good for teachers but certainly not what I would show my students.   Start with example Diamante’s and deconstruct them with your students.  Model how to write one of these poems by using student suggestions for words.  If you want students to write their own poems, provide a topic and have students work in small groups to list nouns, verbs, adjectives, antonyms and synonyms relative to the topic.  This will make the writing process much faster.  Here are some examples. 

Young, energetic.
Growing, playing, learning.
Boys, girls. Dads, mums.
Loving, working, providing.
Grown, tired.

Light, lively.
Awakened, Shining, Revealed.
Sun, Rainbows. Moon, Stars
Sleeping, Darkened, Covering.
Lonely, Quiet
Enjoy the writing process with these poems and give students opportunities to display them in interesting ways.
This post first appeared on A Great Title but has been updated as of 18 April 2016.(
You might find these FREE resources useful – see below.  Please note that I did not create any of these resources, they have been created by some fantastic teachers who sell on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Make sure you provide feedback if you choose to download one or more of these.
Happy Writing
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Twice the Nice The Leibster Award Part 2: Nominate and Interrogate

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OH NO!! I knew this would happen, I was just hoping it wouldn’t happen this week.  I made a mistake, for which I have to apologise!  You see, when I received 2 Leibster Awards, I decided that meant I could nominate more than 10 blogs.  It was quite late and after a long day at work, I sat down and started commenting on a few blogs to tell them I had chosen them for a Leibster.  It wasn’t until I had commented on a few of these that I said to myself: “self, you really should write these down because you are going to forget which blogs you have chosen and commented on and which ones you still have to go to.”  So, then I did it from memory and, of course, I forgot one of the blogs.  It is one of the best ones too!!!

Please accept my apologies and as well as checking out the 10 blogs below, please check out Denise’s blog Denise has some excellent ideas and resources on her blog for relief teachers and full time teachers.  I am really enjoying following her blog.  SORRY DENISE! 

My Leibster Nomination and Question Post

You will need to check out my previous post to see guidelines and my responses to the questions that were given to me as a Leibster Award winner.  I have nominated the following blogs.  Questions for each of these bloggers to answer will be below the links.  Check out these to see what is happening in the blogosphere.  It is especially great to see new blogs and ones that have been around a while but aren’t well known.  Sometimes the quiet blogs are the most interesting.

Leibster Award WINNERS!


Teacher on Training Wheels 

Mrs Holpepper: Bookworm 

A Great Title 

Tommy found a real book

A moment in Life

 In To Her World

Peopled Places 

Eliza Thinks Aloud

Squarehead Teachers 


How many people are living in your house?  Who are they?

Do you have any pets? Tell me about them.

What do you do when you are not blogging? (work or play)

Did you have a favourite teacher? Tell me about them.

What is your favourite picture book? (every adult should have one, but if you have to – think back to when you were little)

What are you wearing right now?

Where do you usually write your blog posts (in bed/ at a desk/ on the back porch etc)?

No matter who we are, we all have a ‘go to’ movie.  We have a movie we watch when we are in bed with the flu, or we had a rough week and need to hide away.  We watch it on our holidays, just because we can and we can quote mundane dialogue from it. What’s your ‘go to’ movie and Why?

You learn something new everyday!  What have you learned this week?

Tell me a Joke!  It can be as silly as you like (Christmas Bon Bon Jokes are the best!) OR you can tell me a long serious story with a surprise punchline.  Just keep it clean.


I look forward to reading all the responses to the questions above.  If you are reading this and you aren’t one of the nominees, please still go and check out all these great “little” blogs and share the love.  Thanks again to my awesome followers.  You may be few in number, but you are obviously very intelligent and discerning people.  This week is really crazy for me with the return to school, but the new series about whole school literacy programs, engaging reluctant readers and teachable moments will be out in February.  I’m still SLOWLY working on the Zero to Hero Blog Challenge so there will be updates about that coming soon too.

Happy Reading!

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Twice the Nice: The Leibster Award

Last week I was nominated for a Leibster Award and have been thinking about my questions and who to nominate.  Today, I was nominated again.  I decided I better take the hint!   I’m not sure what the deal is when someone is nominated twice in one week, but I’m going to just go with it.



Apparently, there are guidelines for accepting the award.  In my opinion Guidelines are bendable.  Here they are.

1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog (help with the traffic flow)

2. Answer the 10 questions sent to you as part of the nomination.

3. Nominate 10 blogs with 200 followers or less (but other rules say up to 300).

4. Give your nominees 10 questions to answer.

That sounds simple.  Considering that I have been nominated twice over, I am going to do the following:

1. Thank the two bloggers who nominated me.

2. Answer the 20 questions sent from both “noninators”.

3. Choose 10-20 blogs with up to 300 followers .

4. List 10 questions for my nominees to answer.

BIG THANKS goes to

Allie @ Allie’s Notes and The Blogger @Occasional Stuff (who doesn’t seem to have a name).  Click the links to check out their Liebster Award posts and explore their blog while your there.

20 Questions

From Occasional Stuff

Why did you start your blog?

I started this blog so I could reflect on and share the work that I do as a Literacy and Numeracy Coach and as a Learning Support Teacher.  I also started it because there were very few current websites or blogs like this one.  Lots of the blogs about Literacy Coaching were either years old or more about interactions with students.  My role had me working more with teachers and administration staff in our school so I wanted to focus on that.  It has ended up being very different though.

What might have (or has) prevented you from continuing?

I was hoping to post once a week, but it wasn’t very practical when I was working so hard at school.  I set myself very high standards and I would rather post less often and have every post be a worthwhile and useful article for my readers than post regularly and not well.  Does that make any sense? Some Literacy Coach, Hey!

It’s a cold, dark, wet day here today, what’s it like where you live?

It’s hot and humid.  The sun is shining brightly, or at least it was when I was last outside.  I think it has probably gone to bed now.  But the heat is still around.  The heat never seems to leave!

What do you like to do when the weather is bad?

I like curling up in bed with a good book and my cat.  Sometimes rainy days are a dream come true!
Do you have pet? If yes, tell me about it, or if not, what is your favourite animal?

I have a cat.  She is a beautiful tortoiseshell of about 15 months.  I love my kitty, but I also like small dogs.  I had a budgie when I was 7 – he died when I was 10. I had a cockatiel when I was 14 and he died about a year ago.

Show me a picture of what makes you happy. Why does it make you happy?

There is a picture that I have on the noticeboard beside my desk at work and it makes me really happy.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a copy that I can post here.  Sorry.  I will describe it and tell you why I love it.

The picture is a photograph of a student that I taught a few years ago.  The student was sitting on the oval (field) at school, leaning on his bag and reading a magazine.  This was a kid who told me he couldn’t read and there was no way I was going to get him to read.  It wasn’t posed, because he didn’t know that I could see him and I took the photo from behind.  You can’t see his face, you can just see that he was reading.  That kid was one of my triumphs!

There is another photo of a student that makes me happy too.  Again, I don’t have a copy I can show you.  I met her when she was a struggling 5th grader and it took me a long time to work out how to help her.  The photo I have of her, is at her graduation.  She finished year 12, passed all her subjects and received the traineeship award at her school.  She was a great kid and it was wonderful to see her succeed.

Did you read anything that made you laugh in the last week?

I read a text message from my sister that was supposed to say “I will get C to load Skype on my phone later” and it said “I will get C to load it on my ohjbe later.”  My best friend emailed me this morning because her dog is 10 years old today and she made a joke about the squeaky toy they gave the dog getting ripped to pieces.  I laughed out loud at that.  I also read a short story collection called “More Top Stories”  last week and a few of those stories made me laugh… but I don’t remember exactly what it was.  I laugh as often as I can, and most people don’t understand what is so funny to me.

What is your favourite article of clothing, and why is it?

That seems to change quite a bit.  I used to have a favourite pair of tracksuit pants that were just so comfy, but they have gone to the closet in the sky.  I have a pair of pyjama shorts that are purple with black polka dots.  They are the best shorts for this kind of weather.

Favourite food? 

Chocolate, Mint Chocolate Chip Ice cream, BBQ Pork Buns, Lasagne,

Do you play any sports regularly?

Bahahahaahaahaa!  No.

From Allie’s Notes

If you were a character in a book, who would you want to be? Why?

WOW! Too hard!  I don’t think there is any character that I want to be.  I would like to be myself – like Lost in Austen or Inkspell when readers get sucked into the book and get to meet all the characters and mess with the story line… mwahaha.

What was your very first job?

I used to babysit (feed and put the baby to sleep while her mother was teaching a dance class in the same building) for a VERY small fee and I tend to remember doing that when I was about 11 or 12.  When I was 14, I worked for my father organising his files and typing letters for him at the newspaper where he worked.

Would you rather travel by sailboat, motorboat, or cruise ship?

Cruise ship, I think.  I like big boats and I cannot lie.  I also like the idea of not having to worry about food or making my bed.

Which zoo animal would you like to keep for a pet? Why?

I think I would like a giraffe, because they are tall and could reach things on high shelves for me.   I could also see myself getting on very well with a koala.   Penguins are cute too, but they might smell a bit fishy and I doubt they would get on with my cat.

What nicknames have you had or been called?

Mel is a nickname and one that I avoided for the first 25 years of my life.  It sort of suits me now.  I also get “Hughesy” from a couple of the blokes at work, but I tend to ignore them when they say it, so it probably doesn’t count.  A few people at school like calling me Miss Mel and for some reason I really dislike that.  My nephews and nieces call me Nay (don’t ask).

If you wrote a book tomorrow, what would the title be?

Aunty Kristy and the butterflies

What is your favorite dish to cook for dinner?

Macaroni and Cheese!!

What is your best childhood memory?

I have lots of great childhood memories that I can’t decide.  I loved visiting my Nanny and Pa at their house.  I also have fond memories (for some strange reason) of being read to in class.  There are a few books that were read to me in primary school that I have seen in book shops years later and been so excited to see them – I can tell you the first time a teacher read them to me and who the teacher was.

Who is the most famous person you have ever met (or nearly met)? Where?

Wow, that’s a tough one.  I sang in the choir on the Today Show when I was 9 and I met the Monty the Weather man.  He was very famous in Australia at the time.  I stood very close to Ruth Cracknell at a theatre in Sydney once (she is a very famous Australian Actress).  I have an autographed first edition of a book written by Nora Ephron, but I didn’t meet her . My mother has a photo of me with one of the Leyland Brothers (apparently they were famous in the Aussie tourism industry).  I met a singer who tours with Guy Sabastian.  Does that count?  I have met two Generals of the Salvation Army, but I’m not sure you could call them famous.  I feel like I’m clutching at straws.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself?

“Everything is going to be okay, in fact, everything is going to be so much better.  Just breathe.”

Check in tomorrow when I will mention the bloggers that I am going to nominate for a Leibster Award and then you can share the love by checking them out.  

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Catching Up with the Crowd/ Zero to Hero Bloggers

I promised that today I would complete a few days worth of challenge tasks all at once.  Hopefully I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew.  I doubt it.

Day Two: What’s your name?

The task: Come up with a name (if you don’t already have one) or change your name (if it needs tweaking).  Edit your tag line.  Flesh out both of them in a widget.

My name is sort of obvious, I think.  I like it.  I put a great deal of time into it when I started the blog and I have social networking accounts that are linked to my blog.  I am truly happy with the name and that has nothing to do with the fact that changing the name of my blog would be a pain in the head in terms of social networking profiles (etc)… okay maybe a teeny bit.

My Tagline is good too.  I think.  The only reservation I have about it, is the length.  I think it probably should be shorter.  I’m also not sure if I like how the tagline appears on the page, but that is more of a ‘theme’ issue more than anything.  I could shorten it to Literacy and Learning.  I could also add something about reflection, as this is clearly a new focus for me.  I don’t want readers to be turned off when they see that it is a personal ‘reflective’ type of blog.  I need to think more about it.

I have already created a Widget for my sidebar that sums things up about me, however I am going to edit it.  This is probably one of those things that I should review more often.  Even if the “About” page isn’t updated all the time, I think the Widget probably should be.  Perhaps I should ask the bloggers on the forum about that.  If you want to update ‘about’ info, where should you do it?

That is Day Two Done! 😀

Day Three

Write a Post (but you don’t have to publish): Okay, I’m going to cheat on this one a little bit.  I am drafting and I am thinking about several posts, I will spend extra time drafting in the next few days.  I am also planning out a few series that will allow me to finally write about some “big ideas” and lessons I have learned in my coaching role.

Day 3 = Done!

Just so you know…

I have started the Day 4 topic, but I think it deserves it’s own post.  Really, I do.  Tomorrow, you will see my response to Task 4 with a few comments on Task 5.  For the record, I really enjoyed both Task 4 and 5.  On Thursday I will try to tackle 6 and 7 together which should get me all caught up.  We will see how that goes, I suppose.

Thanks for Checking in!  Oh, and a big shout out to my two newest followers: Mark and Mrs H.  Both have new blogs on the block so check them out too.

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